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  • Subject area(s): Philosophy
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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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 Christian Presence

     The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a term used by Christians to explain the doctrine of Jesus' true presence in the Eucharist. In Christian theology, Christ is believed to be in the body and blood of the Eucharist.. While Christians believe that Christ is present in many aspects of the church, especially the sacraments, the only place where Christ is present as himself is in the Eucharist. Whether you are using the term Eucharist, Communion, or Lord's Supper, they all have the same meaning and Jesus Christ is present in them. It is the kind of presence that determines on the denomination. Whether Roman Catholic or Lutheran, there are different views on what the real presence is.

Roman Catholic Perspective

     For Roman Catholics, Christ is not present symbolically or metaphorically, but actually. He is present in the physical eucharistic elements of the bread and wine as His own flesh in the form of body and blood. Even though the outward appearance of the bread and wine are the same, how it looks, feels, and tastes are all the same, it is the substance of the bread and wine that has changed. This change occurs during transubstantiation. When transubstantiation takes place, the bread and wine are no longer just bread and wine, but body and blood. The importance of this change of elements is emphasized by the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

…by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole  substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.1

This definition goes back many years. It has been used at the Roman Council of 1079 and has since stayed the definition that many Catholics use today. This definition aligns closely with the ideas of Thomas Aquinas. While the definition of transubstantiation has been used long before Thomas Aquinas' time, he is still largely given credit for the term2.

Thomas Aquinas

     In the Summa Theologiae Thomas Aquinas uses a twofold manner argument to prove that Christ is present in the Eucharist. He explains first the ex vi sacramenti (the power of the sacrament) and then the ex naturali concomitantia (natural concomitance). The power of the sacrament lies in the words. The words of institution invoke the change in the sacrament. The Latin of these words are hoc est corpus meum, hic est sanguis meus, meaning this is my body, this is my blood. When these words are said, the bread and wine are converted into the body and blood of Christ.

He uses Aristotle's philosophy to explain Christ's Eucharistic presence.

showing us that

In the Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry

Evangelical Lutherans

     The beliefs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are similar to those of the Roman Catholics, but differ in one major way. They are similar in the fact that they both believe that Christ is “present whole and entirely, in his body and blood, under the signs of bread and wine.”2 They differ when it comes down to the elements. Lutherans believe that the bread and wine retain their outward characteristics as bread and wine and that Christ becomes present alongside with the elements. The term consubstantiation is used to describe this coexistence. The definition states that Christ's body and blood are seen as coexisting alongside the bread and wine.

Our Need For The Real Presence


     The song “Bread,” by Felix Rabito shows the people's need for Jesus' true presence.

This can be seen using the broken window theory. The broken window theory describes the  disorder and chaos of a neighborhood. If many of the windows are broken, that means people are trying to brake in. The broken window glass shows that there are dangerous things happening outside, that that home is not safe. In the song, he talks about the broken window sill, saying that time has flown by but the window is still broken, “years have gone by, but he thinks he still loves you [God].” In the song it seems like he's not really sure what is going on, but hopes God is still there and is trying to love him as best he can.

     With the broken window theory, even if the window gets fixed it is likely to get broken again because of its surroundings. This is just as people are. People are likely to be broken again, their relationship with God will not always be clean and fixed like a brand new window. We are not safe with a broken window because that means anything can get in. For example, the devil is able to get in through a broken window. Life is challenging so we are more likely to have broken window sills. This is why there is a need to be focused on the Eucharist. When their eyes are fixed on God, the window is fixed. When the window is fixed, nothing can get in. Felix Rabbito then continues by saying “their hearts are violent… its because their hearts aren't on the bread [God].” Throughout the song it seems as if he knows what to do to love God, he is just having trouble doing so. He is hoping that no matter what God is still there for him and is trying to love him. With humility, he will be able to. If he can accept that everyone is a broken window and has the need to be loved fully by God, it will be easier for him to know God's true presence.



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